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Ransomware attackers are taking cues from the business world

An IT researchers shows a computer infected by a ransomware at the National Institute for Research in Computer Science and Automation. Damien Meyer/AFP via Getty Images

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Ransomware attacks — where users are excluded from their files or devices until a payment is made — are on the rise. Hospitals, individuals, even cities like Atlanta and New Orleans have all been victims of these attacks.

To see how easy it is to do, Bloomberg Businessweek staff writer Drake Bennett conducted an experiment. He collaborated with his editor (and the magazine’s lawyers) to get ransomware to attack his editor’s computer. In the end, all it took was a little patience, the dark web and $150 in bitcoin. 

“Part of what’s going on here is the same thing that happens in a lot of industries, where technology sort of replaces skill,” Bennett said.

He spoke with “Marketplace” host Kai Ryssdal about the ransomware industry and some of the business practices it’s adopted, including the creations of a subscription model, Ransomware-as-a-Service (RaaS).

“Literally you pay a subscription fee and someone basically helps you do all this,” Bennett said. “So it lowers the bar even further.”

Click the audio player above to hear the interview.

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